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WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Most of the newly elected and re-elected Republican members of Congress, Tea Party candidates in particular, vowed to whittle down or repeal healthcare reform once in office, but the healthcare companies that stand to benefit hope to change their minds, as some of their lobbying activities last quarter have shown.
(THE NEWS: Report: PhRMA's lobbying efforts total more than $5 million in Q3. For the full story, click here)
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $5.2 million lobbying Congress during third quarter 2010 –– which took place during those critical last few months before the midterm elections –– in part on issues related to healthcare reform. That’s less than the $6.8 million PhRMA spent on lobbying in third quarter 2009, but still enough to send the message that it has a big stake in reform. After all, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Barack Obama signed into law in March, will provide health care to 32 million Americans who previously lacked it. That means a lot of new customers for drug makers, retail pharmacies and other healthcare companies and providers.
In addition to PhRMA’s $5.2 million, Walgreens spent $340,000 on lobbying during the quarter, according to published reports, some of which it devoted to lobbying on healthcare reform. Rite Aid spent $50,000 on lobbying during the quarter — compared with $10,000 during the first quarter and $20,000 during the second. Dwarfing both was CVS Caremark, which spent $2.6 million.
Pharmacy retailers also have a quite a bit at stake. In addition to dispensing a lot of the drugs in the first place, many of them provide preventive care services through retail clinics, often at competitive prices. The combination of the healthcare-reform bill’s emphasis on preventive care and the tens of millions of new people it will add to the system could bring in lots of new customers for retail pharmacies as well.